A Victoria-based retirement community is doing a pilot project with the Amazon product Alexa to see if it helps keep seniors engaged. (iStock photo)

B.C. seniors’ home uses voice-activated Alexa in pilot project

The virtual assistant is being used in Victoria to help keep residents engaged

Staff at a Victoria retirement home have been testing the voice-activated assistant Alexa to help keep seniors engaged.

Residents at Berwick Retirement Communities have been testing out the virtual assistant, with reminders to take their medication and what time is dinner.

With a prompt of “Good morning,” Alexa can be programmed to turn the lights on, say the date and time, and give a weather forecast.

“The most important thing for a senior is a purpose to get up and do the day,” said Amir Hemani, chief operations officer of the company, which has locations across B.C.

“We onboard the residents to get into a suite, give them an orientation and demonstrate and lead them with it.”

Most seniors are generally not fluent in technology and don’t own a laptop or iPad, said Hemani, who is part of the Aging 2.0 Vancouver Chapter which helps keep his finger on the pulse for the latest technology and best practices of innovations for seniors.

Some may be visually impaired, have cognitive issues, can’t read, or have reduced mobility. Alexa is completely verbal and programmed for voice-activated requests.

Staff have done three months of testing for one of their visually impaired residents in Victoria, and has put Alexa in common areas of the facility.

If all goes well, Hemani said Alexa would become a standard feature in every suite when people move in. It could be ready as soon as next spring to be used in the newest retirement community being built in Qualicum Beach.

Sylvia Ceacero, CEO of B.C. Seniors Living Association, agrees that the social piece – keeping seniors connected is important.

“For all of us, socializing and networking has a direct influence on our health and well-being,” she said.

While technology offers many benefits, Hemani added, there’s nothing that can replace receiving a hug from a loved one.

“Physical touch is hard to replace from a technology alternative,” he said. “It makes us want to stretch a little further to see how we can help. When things are reduced for our seniors, we need to find out how to bridge the gap.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Most cows saved during massive fire on Agassiz farm thanks to fast work of farmers, neighbours

Agassiz Fire Department responded to late night call Wednesday

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

Massive fire destroys Agassiz dairy barn

Reports say at least one cow died in the blaze

Chilliwack and Yarrow libraries in need of reading buddies

The Reading Buddy program helps students in grades one to four develop a love of reading

Hope daycare and preschool project delayed past ‘aggressive ’ September start-date

12 families are waiting for Swetexl, a collaboration between faith, First Nations and education organizations, to open

Conservation officer frees B.C. deer from flotation gear mishap

BC Conservation Officer Service is reminding residents to keep backyards clear of entanglements

Ottawa to name new ambassador for women, peace and security, Freeland says

Chrystia Freeland also confirmed Canada would spend about $25 million to fund number of initiatives

‘A little bright spot:’ Ottawa residents rescue dog trapped beneath rubble

Freelance journalist says rescue of a dog trapped under rubble was happy ending amid chaos in Ottawa

B.C. deaf community wants different sign languages on federal accessibility act

Advocates also want Indigenous Sign Language to be recognized on the Indigenous Language Act

Remainder of Vancouver Whitecaps season filled with ‘must-win’ games: coach

With Vancouver currently sitting four points out of a post-season spot, each contest is crucial

VIDEO: B.C.-born firefighter remembered by MP in emotional speech

Family asks first responders to look after one another in wake of suicide, growing concerns of PTSD

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Tragic accident claims life of B.C. toddler

Fundraising effort has been created to help mom and family

B.C. nanny charged with sex abuse of 3 children

Saanich Police seek potential victims of Johnathon Lee Robichaud from Central Saanich

Most Read